Dog-Eared and DispatchedHappy Easter, literary citizens! Whatever your plans are for the day, we hope they turn out lovely. In this week’s rundown of the wild world of book culture, we look back on the life of much-admired author Gabriel García Márquez. Next, we delve further into the current financial crisis faced by Barnes & Noble as a key shareholder relinquishes a portion of his stock in the company. Lastly, we revisit the Authors Guild vs. Google Books lawsuit as the Guild files an appeal to Judge Denny Chin’s November 2013 ruling. Among the footnotes for this week are Pulitzer Prize winners, Eisner Award nominees, updates on Apple’s damages trial, a look into how Amazon seems to be assisting drug dealers, and more. Ready. Set. Read!
Columbian novelist Gabriel García Márquez passed away this Thursday, April 17 while at his home in Mexico City. In late March, the 87-year-old Nobel Prize winner was hospitalized for nine days while suffering from respiratory and urinary tract infections and had been recovering at home since April 8. Considered by many to be the most popular and beloved Spanish-language writer since Miguel de Cervantes, García Márquez—affectionately known as “Gabo”—was a focal contributor to both the El Boom movement, a 20th-century renaissance of Latin American literature, and the genre of magical realism. When discussing the process he underwent to write One Hundred Years in Solitude, his magnum opus, García Márquez had previously said, “The tone that I eventually used in One Hundred Years in Solitude was based on the way my grandmother used to tell stories. She told things that sounded supernatural and fantastic, but she told them with complete naturalness . . . What was most important was the expression she had on her face. She did not change her expression at all when telling her stories. . . In previous attempts to write, I tried to tell the story without believing in it. I discovered that what I had to do was believe in them myself and write them with the same expression with which my grandmother told them: with a brick face.” One Hundred Years in Solitude went on to be translated into more than a dozen languages and sell approximately 30 million copies, with the entirety of García Márquez’s prolific writing career spanning over 60 years. “When I finished one book, I wouldn’t write for a while,” he stated in a 1966 interview. “Then I had to learn how to do it all over again. The arm goes cold; there’s a learning process you have to go through again before you rediscover the warmth that comes over you when you are writing.” [Shelf Awareness, TIME, The Daily Beast, The Washington Post, The New York Times]
Barnes & Noble Chairman Leonard Riggio appears to be following Liberty Media’s lead this week, selling 3.7 million shares of his B&N stock this week. Riggio said that this decision is part and parcel of his long-term financial and estate planning: “I love this company and I believe in its future, as I do in all of the wonderful people who work here,” Riggio stated, emphasizing that he “feel[s] good about” his current position with 10.6 million shares remaining. This is Riggio’s second time decreasing his stock in the company within less than a six-month period, however, selling 2 million shares back in December. Riggio has said he isn’t planning to sell any of his remaining shares—which now accounts for approximately 20 percent of B&N’s total stock—during 2014. As for the years beyond this one? Riggio isn’t willing to commit to an answer about that just yet, telling The Wall Street Journal, “I can’t go beyond that. I can’t limit my options,” and going on to defend his most recent sale by stating, “I think it tells people I’m 73 years old. I understand there could be questions. What am I going to do with the money? That’s my business. The timing for an executive [selling shares] is never good.” Maxim Group analyst John Tinker referred to the sale as “obviously negative,” stating, “It’s an insider selling, and it’s his second sale. That’s always a cause for concern.” Even with the sale, Riggio remains B&N’s largest shareholder. [GalleyCat, Shelf Awareness, The Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly]
On Friday, April 11, the Authors Guild (AG) filed an appeal in their lawsuit against Google Book’s Library Scanning Project. In November 2013, Judge Denny Chin claimed Google the victor of the case, going on to give the Library Scanning Project a ringing endorsement. In its appeal, the Authors Guild has focused on the fact that Google began this project with commercial intention and not primarily for the benefit of the public, noting that Judge Chin “completely ignored evidence demonstrating that (a) Google embarked on its Library Project for the sole purpose of gaining a competitive advantage and increasing revenue, and (b) the scope of Google’s Library Project dwarfs that of any prior fair use case.” They have estimated that, to date, the Google Library Project has scanned over 20 million books and given 2.7 million scanned copies to its partner libraries. Within the past week, several authors have spoken out in support of the Authors Guild via an amicus brief to the court, including Malcolm Gladwell, Margaret Atwood, J.M. Coetzee, Yann Martel, Peter Carey, Ursula Le Guin, Michael Pollan, and Karen Russell. This document was only one of several similar briefs filed by such organizations as the International Publishers Association, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the Motion Picture Association of America, the Mystery Writers of America, the National Association of Science Writers, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. Yet, as Melville House Editor Sal Robinson reported, there are some strange elements contained within the AG’s appeal, namely their call for Congress to establish a National Digital Library. This idea sounds well and good, except that, as Robinson explains, the very entity that the AG is calling for “sort of already exists”: “It’s the Digital Public Library of America and, though it is a very different organization than the one the Guild proposes, it’s not as if there are no viable complements or alternatives to Google Books,” Robinson writes, going to say, “At the moment, precisely because of minefields like the Google Books lawsuit, it mostly points to public domain material.” [Publishers Weekly, Mobylives!]
1. The 2014 Pulitzer Prize winners were announced this Monday, April 14 and included Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch (Little, Brown) for Fiction and Vijay Seshadri’s 3 Sections (Graywolf Press) for Poetry.
2. After much fussing on both sides, Apple’s damages trial has been pushed back to July 14. In conjunction with this decision, however, Chief Justice Denise Cote has denied Apple’s request to dismiss the states’ class action claims.
3. The National Endowment for the Arts will award $1.42 million to 56 literary nonprofits this year, with a total of $75 million dispersed among 971 nonprofit arts organizations nationwide.
4. In addition to threatening the literary community worldwide, Amazon’s data-tracking software is making it easier than ever for drug dealers to get their business rolling.
5. If permitted by the House of Representatives, the Holy Bible will become the official state book of Louisiana, having been authorized by the House Committee on Municipal, Parochial, and Cultural Affairs in an 8-5 vote this Thursday, April 17.
6. The 2014 Eisner Award nominee list is now available for review, with the winners to be announced Friday, July 25 at Comic-Con International.